Stephen’s comments last night(2/10/21) about some quasi-technical terminology (“glowbuttons” and “shipshape icon/display” for example) have been battling with John L’s much-appreciated corrections to some slovenly nautical architecture terminology (“cargo deck” vs. “cargo hold” e.g.). Jumping in from time-to-time, tagteam style, are John’s further comments about plausibility and its reliance on coherence with the laws of the way things are in the world we can perceive around us. Though I guess I should really say “the laws of the way things appear to be in the world we perceive around us.” Which is sort of the point.
Stephen very perspicaciously observed that I mostly eschew faux-technical bumph like “the reicho-merston isobars” and “chronosyncrastic infundibulum” when talking about stuff to do with the hardware surrounding my characters. (Except for the “core modulator” that’s next to the little closet Tuck designated as a “brig” in which to stash Chuck.)
I’ve written stories in the past where I gave vent to all sorts of whimsical taxonomy and it was fun but frankly it got in the way of the story. So in referring to the gadgets and gizmos on the Tuscarora, I’m trying to stick to a “cinematic” model and call them according to what they look like to the untutored viewer (i.e. the reader who doesn’t know anything about the technology behind the ship – doesn’t even know what dimension/universe/galaxy/world the ship exists in, and frankly isn’t going to get an education in that regard from me) but needs to know what the items look like and in some cases how they’re manipulated and to what effect. So… dials, levers, knobs, sliders – all mechanical things that I think any 21st century anglophone will probably recognize at least at a gross level. Even “glowbuttons” should be somewhat self-explanatory though it’s not clear to me whether they’re mechanical controls with – maybe – embedded LEDs or something that change color to indicate function or state – or are they “soft” controls on a touch-screen-style display (which of course could also change color or other symbology, etc.) The shipshape will be getting more attention because I’m thinking I really like it and want to expand its capabilities and usefulness. I’m depending on the reader however to be sufficiently curious to look up/figure out what a “Halligan” is (other than a WFoD in-joke).
I am trying really hard to maintain a nautical flavor to the architectural terminology of Tuscarora so I’ll certainly make the corrections John recommended, in support of the tiny skosh of verisimilitude the story might possess. Having said that I do have to say that “verisimilitude” in this case is nothing more than a ploy to suck readers into viewing the setting and characters as if they might be “real,” but of course at no time should any reader of fiction make the mistake of thinking that Sam Spade or Huck Finn or Becky Sharp are actual human beings who have shared the plane of existence that we occupy – any more than Bertie Wooster or Bugs Bunny.
So what’s your take on handling all this stuff in a fictional world of your own construction? My goal is always to follow Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, seeking to construct “a miracle of rare device, a stately pleasure dome with caves of ice.”